Driving without insurance in Illinois may result in several penalties for drivers in the state. If you are caught without being able to produce evidence of insurance, it may be considered a petty offense or a class A misdemeanor, depending on the situation. If it’s the first time you’ve been tagged, you may receive a citation and a fine. If you have multiple offenses, though, or if you are at fault in an accident that causes injuries or damage, you may face more severe fines, including license suspension or fines of up to $2,500. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team reviewed the information that Illinois drivers need to know so they can avoid driving without insurance, and be protected from other drivers who might be.

Minimum insurance required in Illinois

The minimum coverage requirements for your vehicle to be street-legal differ in each state. Drivers in The Prairie State must have at least the following limits for bodily injury, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage:

  • $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $20,000 of property damage liability coverage
  • $25,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $50,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage per accident

You may see the bodily injury and property damage limits written as 25/50/20 and the uninsured motorist coverage limits written as 25/50 in your insurance policy documents. While this is the minimum coverage needed to drive and is usually the cheapest, many insurance professionals recommend carrying higher liability limits if your budget allows. The effects of inflation have impacted everything from the price of cars to the cost of medical care — meaning a minimum coverage policy may not offer you enough financial protection in the event of a multi-car accident.

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Penalties for driving without insurance in Illinois

In 2020, the Secretary of State introduced an Electronic Liability Insurance Verification program for vehicles registered in Illinois. All car insurance providers authorized to conduct business in the state are linked electronically to this system. With this system, all vehicles’ liability coverage is verified at least twice every year through a third-party vendor. Per Illinois state Mandatory Insurance Law 625 ILCS 5/3-707, all vehicles with valid registration must carry the required insurance coverage to avoid the following possible penalties:

Paying a fine

The first offense of driving without insurance in Illinois is considered a petty offense, and drivers may be fined at least $500 but no more than $1,000. For a driver convicted of uninsured driving three times or more, the fine may increase to $1,000. However, it is considered a class A misdemeanor if you are uninsured and cause an accident where bodily injuries are sustained. In this instance, you could receive fines up to $2,500 plus additional fees and possible imprisonment. In most cases, drivers who can prove they had an active insurance policy when issued a ticket for driving with no insurance will not have to pay a fine, while drivers who are able to acquire an insurance policy in time for court might have their fine reduced to $100.

License suspension

Your license can be suspended for up to three months if you are a first-time offender and up to an additional six months or more if you are a repeat offender or are caught driving during the suspension period. The typical license reinstatement fee in Illinois is $100.

Vehicle impound

According to amended state law 625 ILCS 5/4-203, if you get caught driving without insurance in Illinois, the police are legally allowed to tow and impound your vehicle. The fees to store your vehicle at the impound site can rack up quickly, so it’s important to get your insurance straightened immediately. Failure to do so could end with your vehicle being eventually repossessed.

Higher insurance premiums

If you get caught driving without insurance in Illinois, then you will likely be seen as a high-risk driver by insurance companies. When you search for insurance in Illinois, you will likely pay higher rates because of your lapse in coverage. Some carriers may even refuse to insure a driver with a lapse in coverage on their record.

SR-22 requirement

If you are caught driving without insurance multiple times and receive court supervision, you will eventually be required to get an SR-22 insurance certificate for at least three years, possibly more. SR-22 is a special insurance certificate reported to the state every month to verify that you carry the minimum amount of insurance mandated by Illinois. If you do not keep up with the SR-22 requirements, the state can suspend your license.

Getting into an accident without insurance

If you are an Illinois driver involved in an accident and are uninsured, you could face several penalties, including an additional fine and suspension of your driver’s license. In Illinois, what happens to an uninsured driver who gets into an accident is based on who was at fault for the accident.

Illinois law states that modified comparative negligence is the standard for determining fault and recovering damages. This means you can only recover damages from the other party if you are less than 50 percent at fault in the accident.

So, if you were less than 50 percent at fault, you could file a third-party claim through the more at-fault driver’s insurance for any bodily injuries or property damage. However, if you were at fault for the accident, the other driver’s uninsured motorist coverage will have to cover what your insurance would have paid them. While it could take several months for the claim to go through, once it does, the driver’s insurance company is likely to attempt to collect the losses by filing a lawsuit against you.

Getting into an accident with an uninsured driver

Drivers looking to mitigate their financial loss from potentially being hit by an uninsured driver may want to ask their agent about increasing their uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage can provide payments toward costs related to medical bills for you and your passengers if hit by an uninsured driver. As stated earlier, Illinois law requires drivers to hold 25/50 of uninsured motorist coverage, but drivers can always opt to increase their limits if they want more robust financial protection.

Another option is medical payments coverage. This optional coverage also helps with the medical costs associated with an accident. However, you and your passengers can use medical payments coverage regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, roughly 11.8 percent of Illinois drivers are uninsured. Based on this risk assessment, it may be a smart idea to consider customizing an insurance policy with these coverage types to protect your finances from a potential accident with an uninsured motorist.

Frequently asked questions

    • You will face penalties if you are caught driving without insurance. If you give false information to a law officer when stopped, however, you may face even greater fines. In that case, the fine may be as much as $2,000, and there is also the possibility of a six-month prison sentence.
    • In Illinois, the average cost of car insurance is $681 for state-mandated minimum coverage, while full coverage, which includes collision and comprehensive, costs an average of $2,310 annually. These average rates are below the national averages, which are $740 for minimum and $2,543 for full coverage. Your own rates are likely to differ from the averages since they are based on a broad range of factors that are unique to you and your situation, including your age (in most states), driving record and credit-based insurance score as well as your car’s age, make and model.
    • It is possible, but unlikely. You could go to jail if you caused serious injury or death to another driver or passenger in an accident. However, even if it is your first offense, you will still be on the hook for penalties. In Illinois, your first violation will result in a minimum $500 fine and a suspension of your vehicle’s license plates. If you are caught driving a vehicle with suspended license plates, you may be given a fine of $1,000 or more.
    • Under Illinois’ modified comparative negligence system, you’ll be able to recover damages from the more at-fault driver even without insurance. But that doesn’t mean you’re entirely off the hook. If the other driver were 70 percent at fault, you would still be responsible for paying for the other 30 percent of your damages out of pocket. In addition, you will also be subject to legal penalties for driving without insurance.